High Altitude Intelligence: Cross Sector Innovation Challenge

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £4 million for projects up to £2 million in size.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £4 million

Opens: 18th Jul 2022

Closes: 2nd Sep 2022

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will work with the Defence Innovation Unit, Stratcom and UK Maritime Security Centre to invest up to £4 million in innovation projects.


The aim of the competition is to encourage participants from industry, academia and RTOs to participate in this cross-sector innovation challenge.

This is to support the High Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) platform development by funding innovative prototypes dual use and multi-mission payloads.

Your project must:

  • propose versatile, multi-mission solutions which tackle multiple challenge topics and consider the wider system-of-systems
  • adhere to payload limits, platform interface requirements, as well as environmental and thermal requirements
  • conduct ground based testing to demonstrate theoretical compliance with the challenge statements and readiness for experimental flight-testing

Your project can:

  • propose holistic solutions which consider multiple challenge topics, for example, a solution comprising sensors, a suitable datalink, and associated processing technology
  • consider HAPS as part of a wider system-of-systems for example, connectivity to other HAPS platforms to deliver a greater overall effect, or the use of a high-bandwidth satellite connection to extend reach

Specific Themes

Your project must demonstrate that your solution is compatible with at least one model of stratospheric platform, where that model:

  • already exists as a full-scale flight-tested prototype, or where credible plans and the associated financing are in place to deliver and test-fly a full-scale prototype platform prior to the conclusion of the challenge execution period


  • is designed to offer a mission endurance in excess of 6 days

Solutions should maximize the use of common and standard interfaces and open architectures to offer compatibility with a range of platform models and types, including:

  • fixed-wing solar HAPS
  • Lighter than Air (LTA) HAPS,
  • H2 HAPS,
  • CubeSats, SkimSats
  • High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) platforms
  • Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) platforms


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not improve the state of the art
  • are dependent on export performance – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product



Your project must:

  • have total project costs of between £100,000 and £2 million
  • start by 1 March 2023
  • end by 28 February 2025
  • last between 12 and 24 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian source.

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size, academic institution, a research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit or public sector organisation
  • collaborate with other UK registered organisations

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses (business of any size).

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you. We will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

Funding Costs

Up to £4 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
  • up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the company accounts guidance. This is a change from the EU definition unless you are applying under State aid.

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not for profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.